The sound of gunshots echoed from somewhere not too far away. I sat up in my bed, trying to make out the figures on the clock, but in vain. I knew I should invest in a digital clock that wouldn’t burn my eyes like my phone every time I woke up to check the time, but the thought always evaded me until the need for the clock pressed at me the most, in the dark hours of the night.
I didn’t bother rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, but instead, I let them grow heavy again. Every night, I would be woken up by gunshots. They weren’t as far away as they were close, but still not in our street. Maybe they were two streets away, somewhere at the edge. I didn’t like edges. You could never tell what lurked on the other side of the corner. Many a time I found myself holding my breath when passing through a corner, only aware of my actions after I’d sighed in relief, with no danger to behold.
As sleep was about to overcome me, for the first time I held myself from sinking into it a little longer. I felt for the pen on my night stand and paper, instead, determined to remember the thoughts forgotten in the night. There was always paper on my nightstand, and upon finding something, I scribbled something on it. Unintelligible thought it might have been, I hoped to remember the digital clock only by looking upon those words.
Unfortunately, the next morning passed by in such a hurry that the clock completely escaped my mind; I leaned towards the forgetful every time I was late to school, which was not a rare occurrence. It was when I was long passed out after a ridiculously bland day that the gunshots woke me again. I counted them, probably just an estimate because I never knew on which shot, I would awaken.
This time, however, I did not go back to sleep, rather, unconsciousness was driven out of my head by some peculiar sense of alarm. Something was going to happen tonight. It was foolish of me to think of my life so passively when all I’d been focusing on was taking charge of my days. As I relieved myself in the restroom, I heard more gunshots.
Mother had once commented upon the nature of my curiosity; like a kitten, she’d said, with her tail straight in the air, out to explore the world. I’d taken offense when my father had replied with the cliched saying about cats and curiosity. I was one to get the cream, not half said metaphors. I didn’t live with them, so they wouldn’t stop me from going out at this time, and it was this freedom that saw me pulling over my coat and tying a scarf at my neck.
The streets are safe, I told myself, even as I searched for the origins of the noise. Almost as if fate itself would lead me to the place, I heard them crack thrice. My legs carried me faster, and I began to warm up more in the chill.
I didn’t have to worry about taking too long to find the source at this time in the night. I saw Mr. Wicker reenter his home, with a long gun. The man was muttering so loudly to himself that he hardly noticed me. I ran towards his house and frantically turned the only corner from which he could’ve emerged.
I spotted the real source of the gunshots. It was a dog, a scruffy little Pit Bull who sat whimpering. Even in the dim light of the streetlamp, I could understand its pain; blood streamed steadily from a wound in its chest. I knew a vet would be of no use to the poor thing, having volunteered in a shelter once.
It was at 1:37 AM that I sat caressing his poor head, watching as it closed its eyes underneath my touch. I couldn’t tell if it was actually wetness in the mutt’s eyes, or in mine as it quietly passed away.